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The Find: A garden of neo-Shanghai delights

March 10, 2010 |  5:56 pm

Shanghai's cuisine, whether served at a dive or a white-tablecloth restaurant, often is typecast as an impossibly rich parade of braised meats and overly sweet, heavy sauces. But at 4-month-old Yu Garden, chef Bin Hu focuses on a lighter, more streamlined Shanghainese cooking style. It's the sort of food found in casual, modern eateries that have popped up to serve the Chinese city's outlying urban sprawl — call it Neo-Shanghainese Cafe Cuisine.

From Yu Garden's façade, possibly one of the drabbest storefronts on Valley Boulevard, there's no hint of the buzzing energy within. At busy mealtimes, the small, narrow room throbs with city life: girlfriends gossiping in the upholstered booths, a lone businessman slurping noodles at one of the faux black granite tables; families and shoppers, their puffy plastic bags resting on the stylishly rustic tile floor, perusing the bargain lunch menu. The polished décor, inherited from several predecessors, gives the plain space a bit of urban chic. Read more here:

Photo: The green leaf wonton soup on the menu at Yu Garden Restaurant in San Gabriel. Credit: Axel Koester / For The Times